Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Take care to guard against all greed”

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (18C), Aug. 4, 2013

BURNING QUESTION: Does God want you to be rich?
FEATURED BLOG: The parish "shop and hop"

PASTORAL HISPANA: Aprender a usar los bienes materiales

Dear Friends,

The Readings this Sunday warn us not to place our trust in material things but instead to focus on the things of the spirit. While Jesus is teaching a crowd of people. someone asks him to settle a dispute about an inheritance. Jesus refuses to act as a judge in the dispute, and uses the occasion to warn the crowd against all forms of greed or covetousness. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Greed & the Prosperity Gospel Mentality

"One of the multitude said to him, 'Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.' But he said to him, 'Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?' " (Lk 12: 13-14.) Why does the Lord, in effect, refuse this man's request? Was the request wrong? Perhaps not. Father Cusick says the Lord's purpose is take the moment to teach about the higher good of the kingdom which might be lost to those who sin by coveting the goods of this world. And why is Covetousness a deadly sin? Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. says because it causes us to forget about God, at times to the point of idolatry. It also causes us to forget about other people except in resentment or envy.

When the Gospel of Jesus challenges the "prosperity gospel mentality," He is not speaking against material wealth but condemns being enslaved to and enchained by wealth. It's a concept that the Readings force us this Sunday to take a look at - what is a successful life, a successful career, a successful relationship? The desire for all these things can be good indeed. The question, though, is whether these desires and achievements are stepping stones on the road to God or disastrous detours. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. says it’s time for a gut-check.
And just how do you measure a successful Chrisian life? Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says success is not a present reality for the Christian, but a goal. And this goal will only be reached when every aspect of our lives reflect the Person of Jesus Christ. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says it means relying on God as the source of our security. It means having a genuine and sincere relation with God who knows us, accepts us, and gives meaning to our lives.

Recognizing the Poor

“Nobody gets to heaven without a letter of reference from the poor!” That’s an axiom attributed to James Forbes, the pastor of Riverside Church in New York City. He’s right. If Jesus is to be believed, then we need to believe that the poor stand before us always at that place where we are judged.

Our material possessions come with responsibilities attached. The responsibility we have is to share with those who do not have the same advantages as ourselves. But the problem - the real danger - with wealth, Fr. Ron Rolheiser points out, is that when we are rich, we have a congenital incapacity to see the poor and, in not seeing them, we never learn the wisdom of the crucified. Fr. Alex McAllister explains that our greatest responsibility is to not enjoy our wealth at their expense. Greed causes our lives to become foul before God. It is the practice of generosity, explains Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S., that protects us from the deadly effects of greed.

And the truth is nothing you think you own is really yours. There is absolutely nothing that you now have that you will not be required at some point to give up. In "A Meditation on the “Curse” of Affluence," Msgr. Charles Pope tells us it is all God’s and you and I will give it all back.

This Very Night

Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us that none of us knows how or when we will die. Jesus reminds us to be prepared. This very day, this very night, God may require one's soul. And Fr. John Foley, S. J. challenges us with this one really pointed question. If death were on its way to you this very night, what would you take to God?

Saint Louis University, sophomore Catherine Stallings quotes what her late father - who recently passed away with cancer - wrote ins his journal: “Steps taken to change or cleanse past habits never feel good, but the benefits come later in an unexpected form.” She says he was correct in saying this because the “unexpected form” comes after we die, when we are with God. Putting our faith in this will never be easy, but we believe God will always reward our efforts.

The Didache & Our Current Moral Tenets

The Didache is one of the earliest written documents of the Church other than Scripture itself. It was written sometime between 90 and 110 AD and may been compiled from the Apostolic Teaching as a kind of early catechism and a summary of the essential moral tenets of the Faith. It’s existence demonstrates that many current teachings of the faith, often under attack by modernity, are in fact very ancient, going right back to the beginning. Msgr. Charles Pope takes a look at some excerpts from the Didache that are especially pertinent for today’s controversies.

Catholic blogger Eric Sammons tackles two of these controversies. In the first one, he explains that Satan’s greatest success is not when he gets someone to do something that they know is immoral; it is when he gets someone to do something immoral and be convinced that it is not wrong. Such is the case today with artificial contraception. In his second article, he discusses the parish “shop and hop.” Many Catholics today shop around for a parish that suits their needs and then hop to the one that they like the best. Is this allowed? What are we to make of all this?

From the guys at Aggie Catholics, we bring you their list of "10 Fun Catholic Facts." Here's a peek at No. 10: We have tons of friends. Not only are there more than 1.16 billion Catholics, but we also have the Angels and Saints. And No. 9: The Church's system of law, called Canon Law, is the basis of much of the law in the world's Western culture.

Miracles, Lessons from St. Martha and Jobs

Catholic preacher and blogger Bo Sanchez has noticed something: "The older I get, the more I believe in miracles. In fact, I believe I’m surrounded by an ocean of miracles." Check out the formula he lays out for a happy and fruitfil life.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

"And who is my neighbor?"

"And who is my neighbor?"
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (15C), July 11, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: Is it better to help in secular or Church work?
FEATURED BLOG: Divorce is contagious for family and friends
PASTORAL HISPANA: Amar a Dios y al projimo es la base de nuestro Cristianismo

Dear Friends,

The Parable of the Good Samaritan says more than "It's good to help people in need." The
parable is also about excuses, about self-justification, about letting oneself off the hook. If we listen carefully to this story and the other two Readings this Sunday, we will hear the whole Christian, Catholic life very gently stated. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

The Commission of the Good Samaritan

Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D. explains how this parable reflects a curious phenomenon observable in every age. Good, religious people, who you’d figure to be most likely to help, are often the very ones who use piety and family obligations to excuse themselves from the responsibility of charity. “Someone else will have to do it – I don’t have time.” “I’d like to help, but my budget is already maxed out.” On the other hand, it is often those you’d least expect who actually go out of their way to lend a helping hand.

"What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

The lawyer in today’s Gospel asks a perfectly reasonable question: ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says it is a question we all want the answer to. Thus it is good to remember that Jesus keeps working us, trying to get us to see the simple answer inside us. Go help those in need, because God has given you an open heart. Fr. John Foley, S. J. laments that if only we would let our heart receive God's love and then pass it on to his other beloved people.

Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. explains that the question from Jesus is not so much “who is my neighbor?”, rather ”How can I be a neighbor?” Certainly, there is no written law detailing what to do if we come across someone in dire need of our help. But, as Fr. Joseph Pellegrino aptly reminds us, we know in our hearts what we need to be doing and what we need to be avoiding. Christianity is not a spectator sport.

Christ is saying to us, "Stop talking. Just do it." And still we can be silent spectators, explains Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, afraid to involve ourselves and dirty our hands. Compassion demands that we get our hands and even our reputations dirty. Indifference is worse than hostility. But if we work according to the plan of Jesus, Fr. James Gilhooley tells us, we will change our priorities. We will become participants with people in trouble and cease being merely onlookers.

“Go and Do Likewise”

When it comes to imitating the Good Samaritan, we all have a long way to go. University junior Adrienne Edson tells those who seek something more to know that the word of God is in your heart. In what you say and do, you need only to carry out his law. As Fr. Phil Bloom wisely highlights, this Sunday we hear Jesus' encouraging words, "Go and do likewise."

Fr. Ron Rolheiser highlights another quote for this Sunday's Readings: “Be in the world, but not of the world!” Great advice, but not easy to follow. The world needs mature Christians who, like Jesus, have the strength to walk inside the world, right inside the chaos of sin itself, without sinning themselves.

And finally, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. clarifies that such Christian behavior does not mean that we should become doormats or must cater to obsessive-dependants. It does mean, however, that we should be sensitive to the often-hidden needs of others and ready to help in any way we can. Real love will know how to do this wisely and effectively.

Pride, Hope & Magic Sacraments

Msgr. Charles Pope takes on the topic of fruitful reception of the Sacraments. And he emphasizes that the Sacraments are not Magic. How fruitfully a person receives them is quite dependent on the openness and disposition of the recipient. The Sacraments are not magic as though they zap us and change us independently of our disposition. Read more about it here.

Blogger Webster Bull explains another reason why he is Catholic: Because Living in Hope Beats Living in Fear. Why does he experience hope instead of fear? Because he really, ruly believes that the Lord will provide. Give us this day our daily bread, we ask, and He does.

We also discuss One-ups and Put-downs. They are hilarious — when you’re a stand-up comic. But even then, I bet even they don't find it funny when they're the target. Who would? It’s a full-face slap to your pride. Susie Lloyd discusses "The Pains of Pride" and offers an answer: “Offer it up. It’s a gift!” Ego stings can and should be offered up to God. Very sound advice specially for husbands and wives, specially when you consider the latest reasearch findings - Divorce is contagious for family and friends. Researchers say break-ups within friendship groups could cause couples to question their own relationships.

Last week, we brought you the "Top 50 Most Popular Phrases From The Bible." This week, we bring you the "Top 15 Phrases Not Found in the Bible." These quotes are either frequently misquoted from the Bible or not there at all. Here's a teaser: "Money is the root of all evil." Now go ahead and check out the rest on the list.

The Silence to Hear God & More

From the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI calls for the Silence to hear God, affirming that the Lord is always close, always good to us. The Pope is encouraging an acceptance of interior and exterior silence, so as to be able to hear God's voice, and the voices of our neighbors. In another sermon, the Pope pointed out that the People of God precede theology, thanks to the Holy Spirit's gift that brings them to embrace the faith, and which can leave theologians struggling to explain what the faithful already know.

Also from the Vatican, a Cardinal reflected on Divine Love as being the the key to the cosmos. He recalled the example of the Blessed Antonio Rosmini, a priest and philosopher, as one who understood that divine love was the key not only to comprehend his own life, but also to view history and the cosmos.

An Australian Angel, Noah's Ark & the Flying Car

Here's a story about an Australian 'angel' who saves lives at a suicide spot in that country. For almost 50 years, Don Ritchie has lived across the street from Australia’s most notorious suicide spot, a rocky cliff at the entrance to Sydney Harbour called The Gap. And in that time, the man widely regarded as a guardian angel has shepherded countless people away from the edge. Read about him here.

Plus a Bible Lesson that will put a smile on your face. In "That woodpecker will have to go!" an anonymous writer explains that everything he needs to know about life, he learned from Noah's Ark. Here's some samplers: One : Don't miss the boat. Two : Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three : Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Keep reading, This is one list you will be forwarding to your email list.

Two weeks ago, the handheld video phone became a reality with the release of the iPhone 4. And now, another idea from the '60s cartoons The Jetsons is also about to become a reality - it's the flying car. The Terrafugia Transition, a light aircraft that can convert into a road-legal automobile, is to go into production after being given the go-signal by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Reserve your unit today!

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a safe and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few"

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few"
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (14C), July 4, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: Who is the Church?
FEATURED STORY: "Red, White, Blue and Catholic too!"
PASTORAL HISPANA: Toda la Iglesia es misionera

Dear Friends

This Sunday, both Isaiah's Reading and the Gospel speak of the rejoicing that characterizes the return of exiled Israel to Jerusalem and the return of the disciples after a successful mission. In Luke's Gospel, Jesus, like Israel, is also journeying toward Jerusalem. It is in the holy city of Jerusalem that Jesus will inaugurate the new kingdom of God by his passion and death. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Vocations and Priesthood

When we read this Gospel about Jesus sending out the seventy-two disciples, our thoughts naturally turn to vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Make no mistake about it, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS tells us, God is calling people to the priesthood and to the religious life. But He is calling them through the words and actions of you and me. So let us join Father Cusick who asks us to pray that young people are encouraged to pursue vocations to the priesthood. And let us work hard to create the kind of atmosphere most conducive to the answering of that great call.

The Catholic Church, the communio founded by Christ

In the sending of the seventy-two, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says Jesus confirms that through his disciples - and those who would come to believe in him through their word - His peace and the news that "the kingdom of God has come near to you" would be proclaimed to the world.

Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB preaches that the kingdom of God has indeed come upon us if God reigns in our hearts, if God's will is done in us, if God acts through us. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S.says it takes guts to preach this kingdom of God. It is where the hungry are fed and the wounded are healed. Where humanity chooses to become the image of a creative God rather than a selfish force for greed and destruction.

And while it is the Catholic Church where one finds the embodiment of this Kingdom, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that to some, being Catholic means simply giving up chocolate for Lent. For those however who explore their Catholic heritage, they discover thousands of years of meaning, insight, and life-giving resources.

The Call to Discipleship

Have you noticed how we at our parishes expend so much enthusiasm on cake sales, carnivals, etc that we have little strength left to get His message out to people. His life is called the greatest story ever told. But we have no time to tell it.

And, if anybody is anxious to take a guilt trip, it is estimated that two million Seven Day Adventists give more money to their church - plus two years of their individual lives - for the missions than 800 million Catholics around the globe.

Thus, Fr. John Foley, S. J.says, it is just fitting this Sunday that we concentrate on the duty we all have to go out and spread the good news of the kingdom. Not a flat duty imposed by guilt or command, but by gratitude for the great goodness of God to each of us and all of us. It is this joy that St. Paul speaks about in Sunday’s second reading. It is a joy that can be found only in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not merely a memory of an event that took place two thousand years ago, that is too simple, too convenient. Our joy is in our sharing the Cross of the Lord.

We are afflicted with the result of following Jesus Christ. Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that Jesus wants imitation - not admiration. Christian discipleship invites us, like Jesus, to become a purifier that helps take tension out of our families, communities, friendship circles, churches, and work-places by holding and transforming it - rather than simply give it back in kind.

"Carry no purse, no backpacks, no sandals." Many people like to think that Jesus was endorsing poverty for His missionaries. Fr. James Gilhooley explains that is not the case at all. Rather, He is telling them that those among whom they labor will supply them with purses, backpacks, and sandals. In a word, He was encouraging His followers to be generous to those working among them.

The "Five Disciplines of Discipleship" by Msgr. Charles Pope - a carryover from last Sunday's Gospel - effectively rounds up this chapter on Discipleship. Jesus is serious about the call and He sets forth sober principles that He expects to be followed.

The Bible, Rosary, Marriage & More

This week, Pope Benedict XVI offered St. John Vianney, known as the Curé d'Ars, as a role model not only for priests, but also for the laity. From Washington DC, the US Bishops in a new video series highlights the beauty and possibility of marriage as God intended it. It also explains why same-sex marriage is not the same.

Well, it seems that more Catholic men are finding spiritual sustenance in praying the rosary. There's no way to know whether the number of men praying the rosary is increasing, but nearly 9,000 people have indicated they like the "Real Men Pray the Rosary" on the group's Facebook page. Check them out. Plus we bring you the "Top 50 Most Popular Phrases From The Bible." These are the most commonly used phrases in our modern culture and most of us didn't even know their origin.

Now here's more food for thought. Msgr. Charles Pope challenges us to think about "What Do We REALLY Value?" Often times we answer the question the way it should be answered rather than the actual and truthful answer. Ask a believer who is most important in their life and they will usually answer, “God.” Others who are unbelievers will often say, “My spouse” or “My children” and so forth. That is the expected answer but is it really the truest answer?

Happy Fourth of July!

Independence Day falls on a Sunday this year. University student Amy Winkler reflects on the Sunday's Readings and the National Holiday that they accompany this year. She was drawn to think about independence and dependence. Check it out.

This year, like all others, we celebrate the 4th of July in the United States with the usual parades, ceremonies and display of our American flag. However it dawns on me that part of the celebration for Catholics should be the participation in the Mass. "Red, White, Blue and Catholic too!" explains how Catholics have been involved in the creation of American history from the very beginning. Peggy Noonan also offers us a reminder of what it means to be an American. And it involves a story about Brooklyn and a Catholic priest. She calls this Fourth of July reflection "The way it goes in America."

Fourth of July weekend is as good a time as any to think about what it means to be an American -- even if there are those who insist you're not qualified for the job. So, as the Immigration Debate rages in our communities, we thought it timely to share this article titled "Why I'm an American, a Spanish-surnamed Yankee Doodle Dandy."

To close things up, we bring you some breaking technological news. An Italian priest is launching an iPad app that will make the entire Roman missal available in electronic form. Want to conduct Sunday Mass but don't have your copy of the church missal? Now there's an app for that.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed Fourth of July weekend.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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